New Yorker’s Bloomberg: Great Mayor, If Cranky, Democracy-Distorting


This week’s New Yorker features a major article about Mayor Bloomberg that is mostly very positive, though it tweaks the Mayor a little — in sneaky journalistic ways that will be beneath his notice — about his ways and means of being so wonderful.

Reporter Ben McGrath chronicles the Mayor’s many victories, sometimes from poignant personal angles (the mayor is not loved by everybody, and is thus forced to “console himself with the long view that legacies are built on achievement, not temperament”). Care is taken to record conscientious objections. For example, Bloomberg owes something to his predecessors; Joyce Purnick is quoted, “Ed Koch had cracked the eggs, Giuliani had made the omelet, and then Bloomberg appeared, and served it” — skipping David Dinkins, father of Safe Streets Safe City, who was presumably segregated from the kitchen. Also, the Mayor’s wealth and power may have a slight distorting effect on our politics (regarding the term limits overthrow, McGrath shrugs, “democracy rarely delivers a perfect solution,” as if it had anything to do with democracy).

The Mayor is also at times accused of personality crimes, such as “peevishness.” But who can blame him? If the piece can be said to have villains, they would be the City Hall press corps, who “represent a different kind of hack — sloppily dressed, and resentful of power,” and whose resentment of the Mayor is due to the fact that these dark creatures “thrive on opposition and conflict, but Bloomberg systematically squelches opposition.” Bloomberg is said to believe that “the small-minded grievances that drive daily circulation threaten to impede big-picture governance.” And who needs that? There’s a city to run, clean, and purge of salt and trans-fats.

The story is well-written and full of lovely observations, such as the pillows found in Bloomberg’s corner office (embroidered with the folksy legends, “”It’s my world — deal with it,” and “Don’t start with me. You will not win”), and the tendency of the New York Post to pursue exactly the sort of hit pieces on Bloomberg opponents that Bloomberg insiders want to see written. The Post generously acknowleges the story (though not that part of it), and ends with its assertion that Bloomberg “said he had a strict policy of not trying to influence stories.”


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 17, 2009

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